GDB minus-2: It's crunch time

Jason Gregor
September 24 2009 02:20PM

capn-quinn

Tonight is the last chance for players to impress the coaches, and when you look at tonight’s roster it is pretty clear which players are on the bubble.

Nilsson — Brule — Stone MacIntyre — Reddox — Stortini Moreau — Gagner — Cogliano Penner — Schremp — Eberle

Grebeshkov — Staios Chorney — Gilbert Smid — Visnovsky

Deslauriers and Dubnyk

Stone, Brule, Nilsson, Reddox, MacIntyre, Schremp and Eberle are all on the bubble. And so is Pouliot, but he is out with a slight muscle pull.

Quinn hinted today that if Pouliot and Pisani don’t get into Sunday’s game, they might get veteran status and be on the 23 man roster. Pisani is shooting to play on Sunday so we’ll wait and see.

It sounds like Quinn is leaning towards moving Cogliano to the wing and will keep Gagner and either Comrie or O'Sullivan and Horcoff as the other top three centres.

It is also interesting to look at the D-pairings for tonight. I don’t think it is a guarantee that the top four will consist of 44, 71, 77 and 37. Renney wants his defense to be more aggressive, especially at the blueline. But they can only stand up the opposing forwards if the Oiler forwards are backchecking.

The story so far...

Through six pre-season games the forwards and D-men haven’t been that cohesive yet. Quinn said it was almost like they were playing as two separate units, and there was too much space between them, especially in the neutral zone.

I’m curious how long it will take for those who ripped MacTavish for sucking the offence out of young Oilers to say the same about Quinn.

Quinn is adamant that this team will be better defensively before they work on their offence. Doesn’t that sound a lot like MacTavish? The difference is that this coaching staff has a different approach in how they are selling that message.

According to the players, the coaches have consistently relayed the same messages every day. Last year, after many games MacTavish and the media and the fans complained the team wasn’t physical enough.

But a player, who agreed they weren’t, said it was never a message the coaching staff hammered home every day. As strange as it sounds, if a coaching staff isn’t constantly focusing and reminding players how they should play, then the players won’t play that way.

The messages to the players have been clearer and right now they are being hammered home on a daily basis, and I’d expect that to continue all season. The players who buy in will play, and those who don’t won’t play and ultimately won’t be here very long.

This power struggle will be won by the coaching staff, and for some veterans and young players, they'd better realize that quickly.

The best fight I saw today

Who would have thought the best fight of the pre-season would have occurred at practice, and at Eskimo practice?

After leaving Rexall I went to watch the Eskimos practice and I witnessed the most one-sided football tilt I’ve seen in a long time.

During scrimmage, O-lineman Aaron Fiacconi and D-lineman Xzavie Jackson got into it. They threw some punches and then Fiacconi showed his hockey background: he ripped off Jackson’s helmet, pulled his head down and fed him two huge uppercuts, the second one dropped Jackson.

Jackson picked himself up off the turf and stormed off to the sidelines. Meanwhile Fiacconi went back to the huddle and got ready for the next play. Not one player said anything to Jackson. He was on the far sidelines, and then he proceeded to throw off his gloves, take off his practice jersey and walked towards the north end zone of Clark field. He walked across the endzone and towards the gate. Only receiver Maurice Mann came over to try and get him to not leave practice. Jackson barked something to him, and then proceeded to continue walking towards the dumpsters.

Thirty seconds later he returned with a shovel that he had found. He was slowly walking back towards the field when trainer TD Forss and Danny Maciocia stopped to talk to him. Jackson was visibly upset, and after some talking he left towards the locker room with Forss.

His left eye was swollen shut and had a cut on it. The strangest part for me wasn’t that he found a shovel and contemplated going WWE on someone, but that not one of his defensive teammates did anything on the field, or said anything to him on the sidelines.

Their silence told me he isn’t that respected in the locker room and I can’t see him sticking around very long. Rarely is a football fight more entertaining than a hockey fight.

***UPDATE***

I got some confirmation that the Oilers and Predators are kicking each other tires. Nilsson would seem like an obvious choice, but I've heard whispers about Pouliot and Pisani as well. Nashville has lots of cap space if they want to acquire either Pisani or Nilsson.

I know the Oilers have lots of D-men, but would Hamhuis be of interest to them? We'll see.

It sounds like there might be some interesting names across the NHL that might land on waivers as early this weekend.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#151 17
September 24 2009, 08:11PM
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A WAY better second period, although it would be hard not to improve over the first.

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#152 ronaldo
September 24 2009, 08:15PM
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Nice looking winger, that Cogliano.

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#153 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:17PM
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So, I tuned in about five minutes into the second... anyone want to tell me who has been good and bad?

From what I saw, it's hard to be too critical, although Gilbert clearly brought his chaos game tonight.

Impressed with what I saw of Schremp.

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#154 Colin
September 24 2009, 08:18PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Schemp was baaaaad in the 1st. Okay in the second. Nilsson has looked pretty good. Gilbert & Vishnovsky are having rough nights.

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#155 David S
September 24 2009, 08:18PM
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BarryS wrote:

oh no. nillson scored. then again, maybe it will make him tradeable

This is the first game this year he isn't playing with pluggers and rubbydubs. And guess what? The kid's producing. Nilsson's a guy who needs some competent linemates. Now that he's got them, watch him take off.

We lose him now and he'll get picked up by a team with actual depth where he'll score 25. Then everybody here will be doing the Glencross dance.

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#156 Colin
September 24 2009, 08:19PM
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@ David S: yeah I like Nilsson. Him and Gagner are also pretty solid as a duo.

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#157 Fiveandagame
September 24 2009, 08:23PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: It's been a mess... a big mess.

Moreau took a Goatish penalty

Powerplay is anemic

MacIntyre has been getting a regular shift.

Brutal give away after brutal give away.

2nd period got better, more emotion, Schremp actually did something 5 on 5

Stone looks nervous.

Gilbert has been rurned around as much as Grebs and Lubo have been (yeah it's been that good)

Bright spots are Penner again, Nilsson, And Cogliano looks good on the wing.

Brule has fallen down as much as Cole used too, and I have yet to see Stortini do anything....

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#158 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:24PM
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@ David S:

Nilsson's a fine player, he really is. I do think he's a complimentary player, and it wouldn't bother me much if the Oilers were to trade him because they can't keep all of the midgets.

Losing him on waivers would be something else entirely.

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#159 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:25PM
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@ Fiveandagame:

I saw one brutal giveaway from Brule, but I didn't want to be too critical given what I said about him last night ;)

How about Reddox? He looked great when I saw him, forechecking like crazy.

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#160 Ccubed82
September 24 2009, 08:27PM
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Good thing they started skating before the game was out of reach.

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#161 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:28PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

How about Reddox? He looked great when I saw him, forechecking like crazy.

That's bang on. He's been doing that consistently all night.

It's do or die time for Robbie. Could be his final 20 minutes as an Oiler or in our organization for that matter.

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#162 Smokin' Ray
September 24 2009, 08:29PM
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It's just nice to see the kid line one more time. :)

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#163 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:30PM
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Stone cannot skate. This should be his last game too I would suspect.

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#164 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:32PM
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The Delorean sure looks sharp.

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#165 Fiveandagame
September 24 2009, 08:33PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Reddox has seen very little ice. He is as he always is, tenacious forechecker who makes the right pass.... now only if he was 6'2 220

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#166 Colin
September 24 2009, 08:33PM
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@ Gunner: Yeah I'm not getting what the hype about him is about he's been average at best.

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#167 Fiveandagame
September 24 2009, 08:34PM
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BEAUTY!!!!

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#168 ronaldo
September 24 2009, 08:34PM
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NICE!!!

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#169 17
September 24 2009, 08:34PM
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WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Gilbert this time.

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#170 Ty
September 24 2009, 08:35PM
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The Good: Schremp - Winning faceoffs, couple of good shifts Nilsson - Nice shot on the goal, some decent plays Penner - Looks fast, nifty plays, grit in the slot Cogliano - Fast, good hands, forecheck Gagner - Playmaker Gilbert - Fast, Nice passing, good shot... Ironically, just scored as I was typing this...

The "Meh" Brule Grebs Staios Chorney Stortini Eberle JDD Smid Stone

The Bad Moreau - Penalties... Visnovsky - looks slow, out of shape SMac - Not looking good for a roster spot... Reddox - Speedy but getting pushed around WAY too easily

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#171 Colin
September 24 2009, 08:35PM
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Brule has looked pretty solid too......

I think 4th line center is his to lose at this point.

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#172 Fiveandagame
September 24 2009, 08:37PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: His Gullwing Style covers a lot of net :)

Oh yeah and Eberle is good but he'll go back to Jr. It's very evident tonight.

He'll be very dangerous very soon though.

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#173 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:37PM
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Kid line is BACK

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#174 David S
September 24 2009, 08:37PM
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@ Jonathan:

The thing is, I don't see this year as a time for more projects. Quinn is going to have to ice the best team possible because making the playoffs isn't an option. Brule might be an interesting option, but he's a project. At the end of the day, who makes you a better team right now? At this point, I'd take a rejuvenated Nilsson over a developing Brule or a trying Reddox every time.

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#175 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:39PM
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@ Fiveandagame:

If Reddox were 6'2", 200lbs, he'd be something else entirely.

I've got the same issues with him that I do with Brule; the effort's nice, but they're both so small.

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#176 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:41PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Brule has twice the skill set the Reddox has. Reddox will always be a plumber while Brule has the skill set to develop into a top six forward.

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#177 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:41PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: At least I think so.

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#178 Alon
September 24 2009, 08:42PM
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Grebs had a meh first 25 mins, but I thought he's been just as good, if not better than Gilbert since. Same with Brule, brutal in the first 25, but since he's been solid.

The best player all night to me has been Dustin Penner

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#179 Alon
September 24 2009, 08:42PM
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oh and I thought JDD has been meh. Sometimes he looks really good, and sometimes I find myself holding my breath

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#180 Ty
September 24 2009, 08:44PM
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JDD needs to stop playing the puck, or practice more...

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#181 ronaldo
September 24 2009, 08:45PM
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Alon wrote:

oh and I thought JDD has been meh. Sometimes he looks really good, and sometimes I find myself holding my breath

That seems to be his style. Even last year, he gets the job done but looks shaky while doing it.

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#182 David S
September 24 2009, 08:46PM
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I'm callin' it now. Sam Gagner is going to have a MONSTER year.

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#183 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:47PM
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How was there no penalty on that play?

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#184 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:48PM
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Gunner wrote:

How was there no penalty on that play?

After watching the replay, maybe not.

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#185 Ty
September 24 2009, 08:50PM
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Too many give-aways!!

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#186 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:51PM
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Gunner wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Brule has twice the skill set the Reddox has. Reddox will always be a plumber while Brule has the skill set to develop into a top six forward.

If you've got an hour some time, search for Reddox on youtube; there's something like 50 of his junior goals up there. He was a pure skill guy in junior; he changed his game because he wanted an NHL job.

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#187 David S
September 24 2009, 08:51PM
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Is it just me or is The Delorean adding a bit of Hollywood to every save tonight?

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#188 Alon
September 24 2009, 08:53PM
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@ David S:

You are not alone. He's definitely selling the saves. Like he did in the NYR shootout, Naslund put it right in the glove, and Delorean was all hollywood after that.

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#189 Gunner
September 24 2009, 08:54PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If you’ve got an hour some time, search for Reddox on youtube; there’s something like 50 of his junior goals up there. He was a pure skill guy in junior; he changed his game because he wanted an NHL job.

As did most NHL players.

There is a reason Brule went in the first round (6th overall) and Reddox went in the fourth (112th overall) isn't there?

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#190 Fiveandagame
September 24 2009, 08:55PM
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Delorean is Box Office gold, look at his numbers

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#191 ronaldo
September 24 2009, 08:57PM
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I like how Quinn sent out the muscle after that hit on Gilbert.

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#192 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:57PM
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Gilbert looked like he wanted to go with Fedoruk for a second there.

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#193 Fiveandagame
September 24 2009, 08:58PM
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Matt Damon + Mustache = wicked

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#194 Ty
September 24 2009, 08:58PM
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Fedoruk unwilling to dance with SMac...

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#195 Fiveandagame
September 24 2009, 08:58PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Jonathan Willis wrote:

Gilbert looked like he wanted to go with Fedoruk for a second there.

I was a little worried for him for a moment... I think he got a look at the name on the Jersey and backed off.

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#196 ronaldo
September 24 2009, 08:58PM
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Fiveandagame wrote:

Anyone + Mustache = wicked

fixed

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#197 Colin
September 24 2009, 08:59PM
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@ Fiveandagame:

60 mil on opening weekend?

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#198 Jonathan Willis
September 24 2009, 08:59PM
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Gunner wrote:

There is a reason Brule went in the first round (6th overall) and Reddox went in the fourth (112th overall) isn’t there?

True, but then there's a reason why neither of them have put up numbers at the NHL level.

Maybe Brule lost his game to injury, maybe it's a confidence thing, but he's a fourth year pro this year and it might be time to start thinking about him as a guy who's going to be a bottom-six forward in the NHL.

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#199 GLoKz0r
September 24 2009, 09:00PM
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Hah! Did anyone else hear the "Heads up Bitch!" as SMac came in for the hit on Fedoruk?

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#200 Gunner
September 24 2009, 09:00PM
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Great shift S Mac. He knows his limitations and does his job.

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